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THE LOOK: MR ETHAN HAWKE

THE LOOK: MR ETHAN HAWKE

Photography by Mr Cedric Bihr | Styling by Mr Dan May, Style Director, MR PORTER

Words by Mr Tim Teeman

Mr Ethan Hawke sits in the restaurant in New York’s Chelsea, attractively rumpled in what he calls his “rehearsal outfit” of jeans, jacket, T-shirt and shirt: any layer ready to be taken off as he “rolls around in the dust on stage”. Rag & bone is Mr Hawke’s favourite casual label at the moment, but he’s also quite a fan of formalwear when the occasion demands it: “Women love dressing up, so it’s kind of fun to play the game with them.” Having once played Hamlet, Mr Hawke is preparing to play Macbeth on Broadway. “It’s amazing, like a giant, black T.S. Eliot poem,” the 42-year-old Oscar- and Tony-nominated actor laughs.

Having first attained fame in 1989 in Dead Poets Society and later in blockbuster movies such as Gattaca and Training Day, Mr Hawke found his niche as an indie heart-throb, first in Reality Bites opposite Ms Winona Ryder and then alongside Ms Julie Delpy in Mr Richard Linklater’s Before cycle of films focusing on Jesse and Celine, a young couple who meet by coincidence before – it emerges in this year’s Before Midnight – their now long-term relationship is faced with destabilising questions around fidelity and love. Mr Linklater can imagine a fourth Before film, but Mr Hawke feels otherwise: “After the other two it felt unfinished. Now it doesn’t.”

His desire to act bloomed when he was growing up in Texas, “like any young kid wanting attention”. His parents divorced when he was young. “My mother moved around, so every year I was the new kid at school. There was a certain amount of alienation, but you learn to move within a space, to be the person or character others want you to be.”

”I project myself onto my son. It doesn’t matter if my daughters don’t like Star Wars. But when I say, ‘This is a Stormtrooper, son,’ and he’s like ‘Who cares?’, that’s difficult”

Every young person, Mr Hawke says, “thinks they’re incredibly unique in their alienation or loneliness. But in a lot of ways I was really average”. His mother was a “wild advocate of the arts” so he read Messrs Fitzgerald, Ferlinghetti, Hemingway and Sam Shepard, although he claims when he met Ms Delpy for the first time, “she was steeped in European cinema. I liked Raiders of the Lost Ark and football.”

Every young person, Mr Hawke says, “thinks they’re incredibly unique in their alienation or loneliness. But in a lot of ways I was really average”. His mother was a “wild advocate of the arts” so he read Messrs Fitzgerald, Ferlinghetti, Hemingway and Sam Shepard, although he claims when he met Ms Delpy for the first time, “she was steeped in European cinema. I liked Raiders of the Lost Ark and football.”

Writing was Mr Hawke’s first passion, but at 13 he won his first stage role, and a year later got a part opposite Mr River Phoenix in the movie Explorers. “First, it was a lark but after it was over I felt as if I’d put my hand in the flame of the movie industry and got totally burned and had no desire to do it. I was in this movie that was supposed to be this giant success that was a giant failure. I felt like the 14-year-old gymnast who goes to the Olympics, but doesn’t make the final squad.” He returned to writing and has now published two novels, with two more in the drawer “with a lot about what I feel”, so he won’t publish them until his children are older.

The stage is Mr Hawke’s first love, “not because I prefer theatre to movies but because it’s a so much more disciplined art form. You’ve got to be a total moron to be terrible in a movie, there are so many people helping you. On stage it’s easy to be terrible: you have to control your body, breath and temper.” The reason British actors win so many awards, he says, is because they’re so well trained. The older actors Mr Hawke admires include Ms Vanessa Redgrave – “the Bob Dylan of actors” as he calls her – “who haven’t gotten lost to the trappings of vanity the profession lavishes on you.”

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